Home & Design

McInturff wrapped the foyer (above and opposite) in white oak millwork; a blackened-steel sliding door to the kitchen lets in the light through round holes.

White oak flooring throughout echoes the millwork.

The architects incorporated a gallery wall of blackened steel in the living area. Artworks include a mahogany figurative sculpture by Joël Urruty and paintings by Ron Ehrlich, Jessie Morgan and Bernd Haussmann.

A custom, woven-wire panel was designed by French artisan Sophie Mallebranche and imported from Paris by Prévost; it slides open to uncover the TV in the living area.

Seen from the sleek kitchen, the dining area pairs a Bocci light fixture with a table and chairs from Poltrona Frau.

In the guest room, built-in white oak and blackened-steel desks and shelving conceal all wiring.

McInturff surrounded the custom Poggenpohl kitchen cabinetry with millwork of his own design, fabricated by Allegheny Woodworks; the quartzite-topped island incorporates a table for casual meals, while a series of small oils by Katharina Chapuis lends a dash of color.

Classic Oleg Cassini sofas and Poltrona Frau’s whimsical Archibald Armchair surround a custom coffee table of faux limestone and steel in the living area, where treetop views abound.

Sky High

Mark McInturff elevates a Bethesda condo to spotlight his clients’ modern art collection

From a 17th-floor corner unit in the sleek, newly built Cheval Bethesda condominium, a panorama unfolds through 40 feet of floor-to-ceiling windows. Large swaths of green are punctuated by rooftops, while the National Cathedral and Tysons skyline are visible beyond.

This breathtaking vista greeted architect Mark McInturff when he first visited, hired by owners who’d fallen in love with the view from their three-bedroom dwelling but were unhappy with its builder-grade finishes. “You’re already halfway there; this is what it’s all about,” the architect told them. 

The retired couple—he was a franchisee and she owned an art gallery—share a strong modernist aesthetic. “Our vision was for a minimalist, elegant and personal space,” says the wife, who retained an extensive contemporary art collection. “I wanted to feel we were floating, with lots of light and airiness. My thought was to bring in color with the art but let the architecture shine on its own terms.”

McInturff and project architect David Mogensen enlisted a team that included designer Sophie Prévost and contractor Justin Barrows of Added Dimensions for the job. There were two mandates: Bring in a higher level of materials and detailing; and create display space for art. The wife “knew exactly where each piece was going,” McInturff notes. “Most people start with millwork and construction, but we worked everything around the art. It was a fun place to start.”

Since the bones of the building were good, major structural changes were deemed unnecessary. The architects homed in on a drywall partition separating the glass-walled, open-plan dining/living areas from the kitchen. They replaced the plain white expanse with a wall of finely detailed millwork and built-in shelves and cabinets that extends the length of the room. Composed of white oak and blackened steel, the structure serves dual purposes: Shelves on the living/dining side create display and storage space while appliances and cupboards are integrated on the kitchen side. A pocket door connecting the dining area and kitchen was replaced with a white oak and blackened-steel version.

McInturff and Mogensen ultimately extended the built-ins even farther, wrapping them around the corner and into the foyer, where a pocket door of blackened steel keeps the kitchen separate—though round perforations in the door allow a whimsical glimpse inside. More millwork and a low-slung white oak shelf line a gallery wall in the living room showcasing large canvases against a blackened-steel backdrop. And white oak and blackened steel also crop up in the guest room and home office as built-in desks and shelving. “We actually were furniture designers on this project as well,” McInturff observes.

Hiding a boring soffit on the living/dining area’s concrete ceiling led to what he and Mogensen call “clouds”—dropped ceiling sections that gently follow the room’s curved lines and delineate furniture groupings. “The clouds allowed us to install recessed and cove lighting and add other fixtures where we wanted them,” Mogensen explains, noting the wife’s request for adjustable art lighting. 

Before beginning the interior design phase, Prévost visited the owners at their previous stand-alone home in DC. “They wanted the new space to be elegant and serene but a little playful with color,” she recounts. “I spent time looking at their artwork for ideas. I chose classic, modern furniture—not too much ego, just simple, clean shapes.” Low-profile pieces in neutral fabrics let both art and views take center stage—with the notable exception of a sculptural Poltrona Frau chair in the living area that pops in bold orange.

Working closely with the architects, Prévost also suggested enhancements such as the pivot door leading into the primary suite. In an inspired stroke, she sourced a woven-metal screen by French artisan Sophie Mallebranche in Paris. Framed in blackened steel, it slides over the television and doubles as mixed-media art with its undulating, dimensional surface. 

Later in the process, designer Susan Vallon, who’d previously worked with the owners, contributed by pulling together carpets, draperies, paint and some furniture to realize the project’s final outcome. “They are a warm and loving couple,” she says. “I wanted their surroundings to reflect some of the coziness of their relationship.” 

Just when the home was move-in-ready, a leak from the unoccupied unit above flooded the dwelling, destroying the floors and existing kitchen. Nine months later, the patient couple finally moved into their revamped home—now equipped with a new kitchen where Poggenpohl custom cabinetry is seamlessly integrated with McInturff’s white oak and blackened-steel cabinets. “The flood turned out to be fortuitous,” the wife confirms. “We were able to reimagine the kitchen as a much sleeker and more efficient space that continues the same feel as the other spaces—minimalist but welcoming.” 

Now happily ensconced, she and her husband are thrilled with their new digs. She enthuses, “I pinch myself every day as I settle into a favorite spot in the apartment and look out on our corner of the sky in Bethesda."

Renovation Architecture: Mark McInturff, FAIA, principal; David P. Mogensen, AIA, LEED AP, project architect, McInturff Architects, Bethesda, Maryland. Interior Design: Sophie Prévost, ASID, ColePrévost, Washington DC; Susan Vallon, Susan A. Vallon Ltd., Washington, DC. Renovation Contractor: Justin Barrows, Added Dimensions Inc., Takoma Park, Maryland.



Sofas: cassina.com. Red Chair: poltronafrau.com. Coffee Table: Custom through hollyhunt.com. Rug: starkcarpet.com. Dining Table & Chairs: poltronafrau.com. Lighting: bocci.com. Console behind Sofa: designed by coleprevost.com, fabricated by metalspecialties.biz. Art Lighting: buschfeld.de/en.

Chairs: fritzhansen.com. Pendant over Table: vibia.com. Island Task Lighting: visualcomfort.com.

Bed: Custom through susanvallon.com. Bedside Pendants: visualcomfort.com. Desk Chair: hermanmiller.com.


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